In season scouting

Discuss the science of figuring out our prey through good detective work.
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Huntress13
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In season scouting

Unread postby Huntress13 » Sat Sep 26, 2020 4:40 am

I plan to do in season scouting this year in new areas.

My question is, how do you keep from messing up an area with scent when you end up deciding this was the best sign you saw and go back later that afternoon to hunt it? Is that something you just learn by experience?

Suppose you are walking an edge between a brushy area and edge of woods, you cross several places where there is a trail going into woods. But when you want to go back to say the first trail, you have already left scent there. So do you try to then set up where maybe you can get a shot before the deer reaches where you walked?


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Re: In season scouting

Unread postby HillCountryHunter-15 » Sat Sep 26, 2020 5:05 am

I'm looking forward to reading replies on this. I hunt a lot of hill country and I dont see how someone is supposed to scout in season if your scent is blowing toward their bedding area. If I am scouting the leeward ridge and they are bedding at the crest then wouldnt my scent be going right toward them? I know your situation is a little bit different than what I am talking about but still curious to see what others have to say.
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Re: In season scouting

Unread postby KRoss480 » Sat Sep 26, 2020 5:30 am

Huntress13 wrote:I plan to do in season scouting this year in new areas.

My question is, how do you keep from messing up an area with scent when you end up deciding this was the best sign you saw and go back later that afternoon to hunt it? Is that something you just learn by experience?

Suppose you are walking an edge between a brushy area and edge of woods, you cross several places where there is a trail going into woods. But when you want to go back to say the first trail, you have already left scent there. So do you try to then set up where maybe you can get a shot before the deer reaches where you walked?

If I’m scouting an edge like you’re describing I would try and scout slightly off the edge. Maybe get 30,40,50 yards inside the timber and observe the trails/sign from a distance. If you find what you’re looking for or decide to go back to a spot you found earlier, just go back to it and set up right on the edge where the brushy area and timber meet.
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Re: In season scouting

Unread postby MichiganMike » Sat Sep 26, 2020 6:07 am

KRoss480 wrote:
Huntress13 wrote:I plan to do in season scouting this year in new areas.

My question is, how do you keep from messing up an area with scent when you end up deciding this was the best sign you saw and go back later that afternoon to hunt it? Is that something you just learn by experience?

Suppose you are walking an edge between a brushy area and edge of woods, you cross several places where there is a trail going into woods. But when you want to go back to say the first trail, you have already left scent there. So do you try to then set up where maybe you can get a shot before the deer reaches where you walked?

If I’m scouting an edge like you’re describing I would try and scout slightly off the edge. Maybe get 30,40,50 yards inside the timber and observe the trails/sign from a distance. If you find what you’re looking for or decide to go back to a spot you found earlier, just go back to it and set up right on the edge where the brushy area and timber meet.


good point- I would agree with this. I'll add that I bring my binos too and use those to check sign from a distance so you dont get too close- especially early season. Then yeah set up on fringe or transition or maybe near a hot oak on that fringe that you can shoot to. Later season when the foilage is down and swamps & marshes are "brown" their bedding farther in- so Ill dive in there and set up- that is if there are big tracks, rubs coming out, or a scrape on that edge.
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Re: In season scouting

Unread postby Huntress13 » Sat Sep 26, 2020 6:30 am

HillCountryHunter-15 wrote:I'm looking forward to reading replies on this. I hunt a lot of hill country and I dont see how someone is supposed to scout in season if your scent is blowing toward their bedding area. If I am scouting the leeward ridge and they are bedding at the crest then wouldnt my scent be going right toward them? I know your situation is a little bit different than what I am talking about but still curious to see what others have to say.


Be interested to hear pointers on that as well.
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Re: In season scouting

Unread postby KRoss480 » Sat Sep 26, 2020 7:30 am

Huntress13 wrote:
HillCountryHunter-15 wrote:I'm looking forward to reading replies on this. I hunt a lot of hill country and I dont see how someone is supposed to scout in season if your scent is blowing toward their bedding area. If I am scouting the leeward ridge and they are bedding at the crest then wouldnt my scent be going right toward them? I know your situation is a little bit different than what I am talking about but still curious to see what others have to say.


Be interested to hear pointers on that as well.

I’m no expert in hill country, but from my experiences I think the trick is to come at them from the side. For example, you have a east to west running ridge with a north wind so you’re expecting them to bed on the south facing points or leeward side. Let’s say your scouting along the leeward side of that ridge and come across some fresh rubs and scrapes. I would then focus on where in proximity are those south facing slopes to where I’m at, cause that’s where I’m gonna assume he’s bedded. Then I plan my attack according to those circumstances. Every situation is different, that’s just a rough example and hope I was clear in my explanation.
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Re: In season scouting

Unread postby A5BLASTER » Sat Sep 26, 2020 8:20 am

Huntress13 wrote:I plan to do in season scouting this year in new areas.

My question is, how do you keep from messing up an area with scent when you end up deciding this was the best sign you saw and go back later that afternoon to hunt it? Is that something you just learn by experience?

Suppose you are walking an edge between a brushy area and edge of woods, you cross several places where there is a trail going into woods. But when you want to go back to say the first trail, you have already left scent there. So do you try to then set up where maybe you can get a shot before the deer reaches where you walked?


My stand is on my back when I do in season scouting. When I find hot sign, I'm hunting till I kill are till dark hits. Best chance is the first sit. Your stink is on the ground, so you just assume hunt it right then and there before they have a chance to come in after you and pick up your scent and figure out the jig is up and they need to split before you come back.

Care a small camera, a small note pad and pen and take really good pics and notes while your on stand, it will pay off the next hunt in that spot.
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Re: In season scouting

Unread postby <DK> » Sat Sep 26, 2020 10:48 am

Huntress13 wrote:My question is, how do you keep from messing up an area with scent when you end up deciding this was the best sign you saw and go back later that afternoon to hunt it? Is that something you just learn by experience?

Suppose you are walking an edge between a brushy area and edge of woods, you cross several places where there is a trail going into woods. But when you want to go back to say the first trail, you have already left scent there. So do you try to then set up where maybe you can get a shot before the deer reaches where you walked?


Yes that is def a consideration for me. Consider the weather conditions. Its honestly just situation based and yes you have to get out there, screw up and learn. I learn something every time and sometimes it takes repetitive mistakes. Its been real dry here so I wouldnt stress as much about him catching my ground scent but be aware that wet ground can hold scent and enhance it. I would also consider going that extra little bit of yardage for the actual setup. Very situational...

Also (if possible) consider not walking on the trails, back off slightly while looking at the sign and take your binos with you. Binos/Monos are very essential to me for looking for sign in the green woods and jumping deer.
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Re: In season scouting

Unread postby PK_ » Sat Sep 26, 2020 2:35 pm

You have to either know or get an eye for how far in you can go and still find a setup vs how far in the deer are bedding/traveling in daylight. Most times the deer are 2 sometimes 3 or more ecotones deep, especially mature bucks(unless you are talking some little overlooked spot or whatever). So generally speaking you have more room to work with than you think (in pressured areas, once velvet is stripped).

So in your example the edge from the brushy field would be the first ecotone. If that is the first edge any hunter in the area will encounter, you can be pretty sure they will no bedding on that edge. I also doubt they are just bedding up in the woods(unless it’s real thick?). So after you check where those trails meet the brushy field, you can follow the one that tickles your fancy into the woods and keep your eyes open for the next edge(ecotone) or piece of terrain, structure etc... it may be a swamp, a clear cut, a drop off, a river, whatever.

I generally walk Just off that next edge looking for exit trails. I use my binoculars a lot to spot rubs up ahead when I can. I like walking into a quartering wind. When I find what I am looking for I will drop milkweed for a while, analyze all the potential trees, predict where the thermals will go at sunset and j-hook back to the transition or just inside it to setup.

Very hard to articulate this via written word and so many variables to consider, so I hope that this makes some bit of sense.
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Re: In season scouting

Unread postby KLEMZ » Sun Sep 27, 2020 12:12 am

PK_ wrote:You have to either know or get an eye for how far in you can go and still find a setup vs how far in the deer are bedding/traveling in daylight. Most times the deer are 2 sometimes 3 or more ecotones deep, especially mature bucks(unless you are talking some little overlooked spot or whatever). So generally speaking you have more room to work with than you think (in pressured areas, once velvet is stripped).

So in your example the edge from the brushy field would be the first ecotone. If that is the first edge any hunter in the area will encounter, you can be pretty sure they will no bedding on that edge. I also doubt they are just bedding up in the woods(unless it’s real thick?). So after you check where those trails meet the brushy field, you can follow the one that tickles your fancy into the woods and keep your eyes open for the next edge(ecotone) or piece of terrain, structure etc... it may be a swamp, a clear cut, a drop off, a river, whatever.

I generally walk Just off that next edge looking for exit trails. I use my binoculars a lot to spot rubs up ahead when I can. I like walking into a quartering wind. When I find what I am looking for I will drop milkweed for a while, analyze all the potential trees, predict where the thermals will go at sunset and j-hook back to the transition or just inside it to setup.

Very hard to articulate this via written word and so many variables to consider, so I hope that this makes some bit of sense.



Outstanding post PK!
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Re: In season scouting

Unread postby MichiganMike » Sun Sep 27, 2020 1:27 am

HillCountryHunter-15 wrote:I'm looking forward to reading replies on this. I hunt a lot of hill country and I dont see how someone is supposed to scout in season if your scent is blowing toward their bedding area. If I am scouting the leeward ridge and they are bedding at the crest then wouldnt my scent be going right toward them? I know your situation is a little bit different than what I am talking about but still curious to see what others have to say.

Your right on the money there. I dont hunt a lot of hill country in Michigan, Im more of a swamp/marsh guy. Hills are tough over here and get busted more than not. I may only hunt hill country during prerut/rut if there is a thicker bench/travel corridor on that leeward side below. Sometimes I can catch one coming across, down the ridge from above, or up from a marsh down below.
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Re: In season scouting

Unread postby Huntress13 » Sun Sep 27, 2020 3:45 am

PK_ wrote:You have to either know or get an eye for how far in you can go and still find a setup vs how far in the deer are bedding/traveling in daylight. Most times the deer are 2 sometimes 3 or more ecotones deep, especially mature bucks(unless you are talking some little overlooked spot or whatever). So generally speaking you have more room to work with than you think (in pressured areas, once velvet is stripped).

So in your example the edge from the brushy field would be the first ecotone. If that is the first edge any hunter in the area will encounter, you can be pretty sure they will no bedding on that edge. I also doubt they are just bedding up in the woods(unless it’s real thick?). So after you check where those trails meet the brushy field, you can follow the one that tickles your fancy into the woods and keep your eyes open for the next edge(ecotone) or piece of terrain, structure etc... it may be a swamp, a clear cut, a drop off, a river, whatever.

I generally walk Just off that next edge looking for exit trails. I use my binoculars a lot to spot rubs up ahead when I can. I like walking into a quartering wind. When I find what I am looking for I will drop milkweed for a while, analyze all the potential trees, predict where the thermals will go at sunset and j-hook back to the transition or just inside it to setup.

Very hard to articulate this via written word and so many variables to consider, so I hope that this makes some bit of sense.


This makes sense. One particular spot I'm thinking is an overlooked spot. Not far from the road. I hunted several hundred yards farther, a couple years ago.

West edge is a private ag field, corn this year. Then going east there is about a 30 to 40 yard strip of brush, it is owned by power company. Then a treed area, but with enough openings that it has thick undergrowth in places. Maybe 80 yards wide. A small stream, then large brush lot, maybe 15 acres. Most of the bushes are 12 feet high, with chest high tall grasses in between. There is one hedge row out in that lot that perhaps I could get in a tree there if necessary.

My thought was that because the ag field is corn this year, the bucks may bed closer to it than they did when it was in beans or green. Also unsure when they will harvest the corn. It has been so very dry here this year they may cut it earlier than normal years. And if I walk that edge by the power line, I might be too close.

The guy that hunts the private ag piece sits in a box blind at the other end of the field, drives his ATV right to it usually. :doh:
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Re: In season scouting

Unread postby Huntress13 » Sun Sep 27, 2020 3:50 am

I also wondered if I were to walk IN the little creek to access the area if that would keep my scent down. If they aren't too close to the creek. It isn't a big creek, 3 or 4 steps across it. Probably very little water in it now, but a couple good rains would change that.
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Re: In season scouting

Unread postby <DK> » Sun Sep 27, 2020 2:50 pm

Huntress13 wrote:I also wondered if I were to walk IN the little creek to access the area if that would keep my scent down. If they aren't too close to the creek. It isn't a big creek, 3 or 4 steps across it. Probably very little water in it now, but a couple good rains would change that.


I use that tactic a lot. They should only cross the creek and walk parallel with it. Ony once iv seen them walk with a dry creek w extreme underbrush thickness around it.

Just be safe bc those mossy rocks are surprising, eapecially w rubber boots. Also I plan extra time for access bc I walk them very slowly when approaching for a hunt. They are great for scent control and cover but can be very loud.
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Re: In season scouting

Unread postby brkissl82 » Sun Sep 27, 2020 2:52 pm

It does make me wonder sometimes when you watch the hunting public and they go in and scout then hunt the next day


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